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Posted at 5:57 PM ET, 02/16/2011

Happy Hour Roundup

By Greg Sargent

* With protests in Wisconsin raging over Governor Scott Walker's push to strip public employees of their union rights, he first tried claiming that the tens of thousands of protestors are not significant because there are "about 5.5 million people in the state."

* But later in the day he started to waver, claiming he is now open to changes to the bill.

* This may be because other Wisconsin Republicans may be preparing to desert him. Much more on this story tomorrow.

* Tea Party consistency sighting? The House votes down the $450 million in funding for a second engine for the F-35 warplane that John Boenher wanted for his state but the Pentagon didn't want.

* One takeaway from that vote: It's a hint that conserative freshmen House GOPers may be ready to talk about cuts in defense spending.

* Also: Michael Isikoff has a nice write-up on the vote, including the droll observation that conservatives opposed to government spending concluded we probably can't afford to "pay another $3 billion over the next few years to build two engines for the same airplane."

* But: Steve Benen reminds us that "130 House Republicans -- the ones who claim to be desperate to cut unnecessary spending, even if it leads to massive layoffs -- voted to keep spending taxpayer money on an engine the Pentagon doesn't need and didn't ask for."

* The White House vows an "aggressive conversation" about Social Security and Medicare, but perhaps tellingly, aides still keep repeating the specific talking point that Obama is opposed to "slashing" benefits.

* In the wake of Florida governor Rick Scott's announcement that he's sending back $2.4 billion in stimulus funding for a high-speed rail project, Florida officials are looking for ways to go around him by building the project without state government participation.

* Loving this: New York Democrats ask the federal government if their state can have the money Scott doesn't want for his own constituents.

* Now that Haley Barbour has stumbled by failing to denounce a proposal to argue Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest, is his only way out to give a big speech on race?

If so, he'll certainly have a tough act to follow -- the comparisons to Obama's race speech will be inevitable and widespread.

* Jersey Governor Chris Christie transparently plays to the Beltway press's built in bias towards tough talk about "entitlement" reform.

* And a smart point by Adam Serwer on that poll on Fox watchers' views of Muslims: It's a clear sign of how views "once confined to the Islamophobic fringe have seeped into mainstream Republican discourse."

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  | February 16, 2011; 5:57 PM ET
Categories:  Happy Hour Roundup, House GOPers, Labor, Political media, Social Security  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Poll: Fox News watchers far more likely to have negative views of Muslims
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Comments

"* With protests in Wisconsin raging over Governor Scott Walker's push to strip public employees of their union rights, he first tried claiming that the tens of thousands of protestors are not significant because there are "about 5.5 million people in the state.""

I'm with Wbgonne on this. I want to see more protests, work slowdowns and even strikes. Seriously, these workers should in no way behave as if they're "beholden" to their bosses. These actions, I believe, will lead to a favorable out come.

Thanks in advance to all those that read my comment. :-)

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 16, 2011 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Even the Green Bay Packers organization have come out with a letter criticizing Walker's plan. Suddenly the Pack have become my favorite team.
Walker's comparing the size of the demonstration to the state's population is classic Right Wing dim bulb tunnel vision "think." I wonder whether the Patriots during the Revolution consisted of a population of the colonies of 50% +1?

Posted by: filmnoia | February 16, 2011 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Josh Marshall's take on Walker seems about right:

"Whichever side of the policy issue you're on, I think the outcome of this situation is going to have ramifications across the country. Republicans came out of the 2010 election pumped up and feeling that they had a huge mandate to fundamentally change government in this country. I don't think the elections really told us that at all. But these things are decided by results post-election not by analysis of the election returns. And that's what's being determined right now.

If Gov. Walker (R) is able to push through big, big changes to collective bargaining rights and makes it stick, that will be picked up in many other states and it will shape perceptions of the public mood going into the 2012 election -- from the top of the ticket all the way down to the bottom. On the other hand, if he gets shut down and the idea takes hold that he overreached, that will have similarly widespread effects in other states as well as in shaping the political terrain going into 2012."

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2011/02/whats_up_in_wisconsin.php#more?ref=fpblg

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 16, 2011 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Greg, I'm glad you're on the Wisconsin story. Walker has also turned down rail money,which means the planned new high speed line connecting Chicago and Minneapolis has been put on indefinite hold. These governors apparently just have a fondness for the 19th century. I don't remember. Is the 19th amendment on their hit list too?

Posted by: AllButCertain | February 16, 2011 6:22 PM | Report abuse

"Republican Officials Cut Head Start Funding, Saying Women Should Be Married And Home With Kids "

http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2011/02/16/gop-head-start-marry/

Posted by: schrodingerscat | February 16, 2011 6:22 PM | Report abuse

* With protests in Wisconsin raging over Governor Scott Walker's push to strip public employees of their union rights, he first tried claiming that the tens of thousands of protestors are not significant because there are "about 5.5 million people in the state."

* But later in the day he started to waver, claiming he is now open to changes to the bill.

* This may be because other Wisconsin Republicans may be preparing to desert him. Much more on this story tomorrow.
........................

Greg,

Did you catch the news flash that The Greenbay Packers have come out against what Walker is trying to do to the Unions.

The Packers are far more popular than Walker through out Wisconsin, so he might have picked a fight that he shouldn't have.

Club For Growth is running ads, backing Walker's effort to destroy Unions, so you can see that the Oligarchs are trying to destroy the living standards of the working class.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 16, 2011 6:25 PM | Report abuse

VA Governor: It's Time For The House GOP To Lead On Entitlement Reform

In the mind of Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA), if the President doesn't take the first step on entitlement reform, than it's time for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to take up the mantle.

On Fox's Your World this afternoon, McDonnell talked to fill-in host Stuart Varney, saying that he hoped that the national party's majority in the House would bring the "tough message to the American people" on entitlement reform.

"I think it just takes strong leadership, President Obama didn't give it," said McDonnell. "Now the House Republicans are going to have to be the ones to lead the way, deliver the tough message. They should do it, they better do it, and I think the people of America will except it since they are doing it in their personal lives now."

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/02/virginia-gov-its-time-for-the-house-gop-to-lead-on-entitlement-reform.php?ref=fpi
----------

Guess the guy doesn't read polls much.


Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 16, 2011 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Folks, you know at that guff that Conservatives keep spewing about not wanting to live in a Nanny State?

Check this out;

http://www.indystar.com/article/20110209/NEWS05/102090372/Lawmaker-questioned-marriage-counseling-proposal

"A Republican state lawmaker is facing tough questions about her proposal to quadruple fees on marriage licenses and certificates unless couples complete marriage preparation classes.

Under the bill, couples who complete premarital classes would pay the standard $18 fee for a marriage license and certificate. But couples that don't take a course would pay $72. Bill sponsor Rep. Cindy Noe, R-Indianapolis, said marriage preparation classes would strengthen Indiana families and help prevent family fragmentation.

“This would be a real milestone and a real help,” she said. “It would have long-term benefits.”"

Posted by: Liam-still | February 16, 2011 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Republicans are shittiṇg their bed. Republicans, there is an election coming up.

Hello echo hello echo hello is there anybody in there...

Republicans, you have to make America optimistic. The angry at everybody and the world thing, that only works for mid-term backlash.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 16, 2011 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Here's the Packers statement:

"We know that it is teamwork on and off the field that makes the Packers and Wisconsin great. As a publicly owned team we wouldn't have been able to win the Super Bowl without the support of our fans. It is the same dedication of our public workers every day that makes Wisconsin run. They are the teachers, nurses and child care workers who take care of us and our families. But now in an unprecedented political attack Governor Walker is trying to take away their right to have a voice and bargain at work. The right to negotiate wages and benefits is a fundamental underpinning of our middle class. When workers join together it serves as a check on corporate power and helps ALL workers by raising community standards. Wisconsin's long standing tradition of allowing public sector workers to have a voice on the job has worked for the state since the 1930s. It has created greater consistency in the relationship between labor and management and a shared approach to public work. These public workers are Wisconsin's champions every single day and we urge the Governor and the State Legislature to not take away their rights."

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 16, 2011 6:40 PM | Report abuse

What else is happening-

Here in Tx, Gov. Goodhair is considering a $100 fuel surcharge on new vehicles that don't meet *federal* fuel efficiency standards and because they are more likely to pollute. http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2011/02/13/state-considers-100-surcharge-on-gas-guzzlers/

Damb big gummint treehugger!

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 16, 2011 6:41 PM | Report abuse

"Republicans are shittiṇg their bed. Republicans, there is an election coming up.

Hello echo hello echo hello is there anybody in there...

Republicans, you have to make America optimistic. The angry at everybody and the world thing, that only works for mid-term backlash."

If they're gonna take on entitlement reform, are they really sh!tying in their beds?

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 16, 2011 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for that Packer's quote, Sue!

Go Cheeseheads!

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 16, 2011 6:43 PM | Report abuse

It is time for Wisconsinites to recall Walker. Just do it.

Posted by: dozas | February 16, 2011 6:46 PM | Report abuse

I think Walker really f-ed up big time by making it known he had the WI National Guard at the ready, "in case."

Scott "Mahmoud" Walker.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 16, 2011 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Protests are growing larger in Libya. It would be nice to see the last of their creepy Despot.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 16, 2011 6:49 PM | Report abuse

dozas: Walker has to be in office for one year before they can recall him.

http://elections.state.wi.us/docview.asp?docid=11827&locid=47

"No petition for recall of an officer may be offered for filing before the expiration of one year after commencement of the term of office for which the officer is elected."

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 16, 2011 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Troll, if they really are, then...they really aren't. They, the Republicans, are incapable of reforming anything.

Liam said...
"O yeah, the year 1450. That is the most ridiculous excuse I have ever heard for why European Powers were justified in colonizing and carving up the Middle East in the 20th Century."

But, that wasn't offered as an excuse Liam. I was just saying you would be a Muslim if they had the choice. Yeah. As for the stupidity of God is on our side...The English just did it, a peace to end all peace, you read the book.

One low note, Churchill's vague (too ineffective to call it indiscriminate) bombing of camel trains in Mesopotamia from bi-planes.


Posted by: shrink2 | February 16, 2011 6:55 PM | Report abuse

I think Walker really f-ed up big time by making it known he had the WI National Guard at the ready, "in case."

Scott "Mahmoud" Walker.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 16, 2011 6:48 PM

............

Calling out The National Guard to get his budget passed, is one of the weirdest ideas I have heard in a long time.

Walker appears to have come up with a weird hybrid form of government; The Military Nanny State.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 16, 2011 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Josh Marshall on Bob McDonnell's suggestion that the House GOP take the entitlements message to the public:

"The funny thing is that I think President Obama, everyone in the White House and all the Democrats on Capitol Hill are agreeing that House Republicans really should be taking the lead in bringing this message to the American people. And probably alone. If the going gets rough, so be it."

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 16, 2011 7:02 PM | Report abuse

"Troll, if they really are, then...they really aren't. They, the Republicans, are incapable of reforming anything."

Thanks for the response. ;-)

Well then, conclusive evidence.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 16, 2011 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Entitlement is not a dirty word, and Democrats should not run away from it.

All they have to do is keep asking the elderly; do you feel that you are entitled to receive your Social Security Checks, and do you feel that you are Entitled to receive good health care treatment under the Medicare program.

Senior Citizens, do you want us to protect your entitlement programs?

Republicans appear to think that you are not entitled to them. Democrats think you are. Who do you side with on this issue?

Come on Democrats; someone move that potted plant, Tim Kaine, out of the way, and put a real person in charge of spreading the word.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 16, 2011 7:11 PM | Report abuse

"someone move that potted plant, Tim Kaine"

You know, I have had tremendous success blooming, not just with phalaenopsis, but other more persnickety orchids, moving them I mean. Sometimes they don't like the place they are or they are used to it or something. Making them sit in the cold and dark for a month or two and then bringing them into brighter light and some bone meal...I am not saying that would help Tim Kaine, it is just a metaphor.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 16, 2011 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't Obama the one who said (paraphrasing) he would tackle the difficult, unpopular issues even if it meant he would be a one term president? Looks as if his courage didn't extend to Medicare reform which he acknowledges is a serious problem.

And the liberal/progressives on TPL celebrate such cynicism!

Posted by: sbj3 | February 16, 2011 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Yes indeed, Obama did tackle the Republican's Economic meltdown, and prevented the second Great Republican Depression.

Republicans slashing taxes for the rich, which created no additional jobs, but did bring about the loss of eight million of them is what has ballooned the deficit, and not the retirement benefits of the elderly.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 16, 2011 7:35 PM | Report abuse

When Sarah Palin is finally forced to recognize that her unique talents and history have destined her not for political office but for the role of Batlady, there is a Robin waiting in the wings for her...

"I really don't believe in abortion," [Justin] Bieber says. "It's like killing a baby?" How about in cases of rape? "Um. Well, I think that's really sad, but everything happens for a reason."

Posted by: bernielatham | February 16, 2011 7:52 PM | Report abuse

"everything happens for a reason"

In a way, this is sort of true.

And don't make fun of people who lose to musicians from Portland.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 16, 2011 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Piece of work, this conservative guy...

"Jim Hoft Blames Lara Logan For Her Sexual Assault"

http://mediamatters.org/blog/201102160021

Posted by: bernielatham | February 16, 2011 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Bahrain is out of control, allegedly.
Oh the oil, oh the oil.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 16, 2011 8:07 PM | Report abuse

@shrink - She's from Portland? Shows ya what I know.

Posted by: bernielatham | February 16, 2011 8:12 PM | Report abuse

"Bahrain is out of control, allegedly.
Oh the oil, oh the oil."

I wonder if the Saudi's will let the unrest go on? Lotta Shiites in the Kingdom. Will it be Hungary in '56?

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 16, 2011 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Here's Bernie quoting Benen quoting Greg (it's a journolist thing)...

"I liked this line from Greg Sargent: "[I]f Fox's explicit goal has been to create a self-sustaining, self-perpetuating alternate reality, as many have alleged, it appears that when it comes to Americans' views of Muslims, the network may be succeeding brilliantly."

But the reason I'm point to this is to acknowledge that while Greg is a very hard-working reporter with a bunch of smarts at his disposal, he is also a very fine writer.

Posted by: bernielatham | February 16, 2011 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Esperanza Spalding.

“The experience that I had here musically was marvelous and very different from that of most musicians from other places,” Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding says about growing up in Portland. “It was a very nurturing and open community where I could play, listen and learn. And that’s what made me who I am musically.”

Posted by: shrink2 | February 16, 2011 8:18 PM | Report abuse

In Wisconsin, its the tail wagging the dog.
Union workers only make up 3% of the workforce.
Private sector has taken huge paycuts the past 15 years, and many pay most if not all their healthcare benefits, and have no pension.
Its time for the public employees and unions to suck it up, and face reality.
Wisconsin can't afford their ridiculous salaries/benefits/pension packages.

Posted by: ohioan | February 16, 2011 8:20 PM | Report abuse

"Wasn't Obama the one who said (paraphrasing) he would tackle the difficult, unpopular issues even if it meant he would be a one term president?"

I laughed good and hearty over people who believed that bunk.

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 16, 2011 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Saudi is a bomb, waiting to be blown.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 16, 2011 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Man, all the stupid ignorant CRAZY liberals are frothing at the mouth over Wisconsin. Bet most of you didn't even know Wisconsin had teachers and other public employees until today.

Let's start checking some of crap spewing from your mouths:
"Even the Green Bay Packers organization have come out with a letter criticizing Walker's plan... "

No, it was seven past and current members. All members of the players union. No surprise there. The Green Bay Packers have said NOTHING about this as an organization. Seeing these seven chime in is about as relevant as, well, me, issuing a public statement.
http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/116231984.html
_____
"I think Walker really f-ed up big time by making it known he had the WI National Guard at the ready, "in case."
Posted by: suekzoo1
___________________

Nice try, but he never said that. But don't let the facts stop you suzkrazyzoo. He was asked a question about civil unrest, or prison guards not showing up to work, and he responded that the guard had briefed him on contingencies. He NEVER said he was going to call out the guard on protesters.

http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2011/feb/16/progressive-change-campaign-committee/group-says-gov-scott-walker-threatened-send-out-na/
_________________

And finally, let's tackle Greg's comments. I guess if you feel asking the state employees and teachers to pay part of their retirement (5.8% from 0%) and pay about 13% of their health care is such a god awful sacrifice, then this country is in a world of hurt. Yeah, really sucks that the Governor is taking away their ability to bargain.

Posted by: Bailers | February 16, 2011 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Always love the roundup, Greg, but I think you missed a significant story. Sen. Scott Brown has revealed that he was sexually abused by a camp counselor when he was ten years old.

http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/health/blog/dailydose/2011/02/sexual_abuse_in.html

It's a difficult admission rings true and I suspect that it will reonate in Massachusetts. He'll be worth watching if he wins re-election. My odds are 60/40 in his favor.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | February 16, 2011 8:29 PM | Report abuse

"Calling out The National Guard to get his budget passed, is one of the weirdest ideas I have heard in a long time. Walker appears to have come up with a weird hybrid form of government; The Military Nanny State. Posted by: Liam-still"

Especially since, once they are called up, the Gov has to find the money to pay them. He also has to make contributions toward their retirement based on accumulated reserve time credits. And none of that money is in the budget.

Posted by: ceflynline | February 16, 2011 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Former Bush official describes Beck's theories as "absurd".

http://mediamatters.org/blog/201102150047

Posted by: bernielatham | February 16, 2011 8:31 PM | Report abuse

North Dakota! "A record 169 rigs were drilling on Wednesday and more than 5,300 wells were pumping oil."

Indians, they had no idea.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 16, 2011 8:43 PM | Report abuse

"Saudi is a bomb, waiting to be blown."

I don't think the Saudi military will be as tolerant as the Egyptions military. I'm thinking Black September type putdown in Bahrain, the Emirates and Qattar. Plus, all those Princes are Sunni, and the protestors are, by and large Shia. Apostates. I predict a Saudi controlled crackdown.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 16, 2011 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, puss under pressure.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 16, 2011 8:55 PM | Report abuse

The WI Governor never called out the National Guard.

"The governor says he’s briefed the National Guard and other state agencies, to prepare them for any problems with workers, as they learn of Walker’s emergency budget plan."
http://www.wuwm.com/programs/news/view_news.php?articleid=7765

Posted by: tao9 | February 16, 2011 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Democracy is coming to the Arabs. The Islamists and the Royals might get together...so they get to keep the money in train.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 16, 2011 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Entrained money versus democracy, Arabs have decided they don't need our opinion. They are just using us for our history.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 16, 2011 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Another really tough read from RS's Taibbi. The Wall Street, SEC revolving door and why nobody went to jail and why we're all a bunch of suckers.

""The rest of them, all of them, got off. Not a single executive who ran the companies that cooked up and cashed in on the phony financial boom — an industrywide scam that involved the mass sale of mismarked, fraudulent mortgage-backed securities — has ever been convicted. Their names by now are familiar to even the most casual Middle American news consumer: companies like AIG, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley. Most of these firms were directly involved in elaborate fraud and theft. Lehman Brothers hid billions in loans from its investors. Bank of America lied about billions in bonuses. Goldman Sachs failed to tell clients how it put together the born-to-lose toxic mortgage deals it was selling. What's more, many of these companies had corporate chieftains whose actions cost investors billions — from AIG derivatives chief Joe Cassano, who assured investors they would not lose even "one dollar" just months before his unit imploded, to the $263 million in compensation that former Lehman chief Dick "The Gorilla" Fuld conveniently failed to disclose. Yet not one of them has faced time behind bars.

Instead, federal regulators and prosecutors have let the banks and finance companies that tried to burn the world economy to the ground get off with carefully orchestrated settlements — whitewash jobs that involve the firms paying pathetically small fines without even being required to admit wrongdoing. To add insult to injury, the people who actually committed the crimes almost never pay the fines themselves; banks caught defrauding their shareholders often use shareholder money to foot the tab of justice. "If the allegations in these settlements are true," says Jed Rakoff, a federal judge in the Southern District of New York, "it's management buying its way off cheap, from the pockets of their victims."""

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/why-isnt-wall-street-in-jail-20110216?page=1

Posted by: lmsinca | February 16, 2011 9:29 PM | Report abuse

lms,

What took Taibbi so doggone long?

Posted by: tao9 | February 16, 2011 9:34 PM | Report abuse

~ And a smart point by Adam Serwer on that poll on Fox watchers' views of Muslims: It's a clear sign of how views "once confined to the Islamophobic fringe have seeped into mainstream Republican discourse." ~
---------------------------------------------

Seeped? Republicans have been pretty firmly established as the the party of phobics for about a decade or so.

Posted by: CalD | February 16, 2011 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Ims, We're not all suckers. Republicans voters are sure. We do feel sorry for Republican voters. Still some people have the way this all works figured out, work it and still want to change it. I don't think it makes sense have to eat twigs and grass just to say you want people who work for a living to get paid. And I hate public employee unions. Work is good.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 16, 2011 9:42 PM | Report abuse

tao

He's done lots of reporting on the financial crisis, but this is the most explosive one yet. He doesn't pull any punches. I'm thinking about retiring from politics and just enjoy the rest of my time on earth, let the rest of you guys figure it out.

Posted by: lmsinca | February 16, 2011 9:42 PM | Report abuse

@suekzoo1 "Josh Marshall on Bob McDonnell's suggestion that the House GOP take the entitlements message to the public:

"The funny thing is that I think President Obama, everyone in the White House and all the Democrats on Capitol Hill are agreeing that House Republicans really should be taking the lead in bringing this message to the American people. And probably alone. If the going gets rough, so be it."

One amusing thing from that linked article is this:

"Asked if his decision to make massive spending cuts in Virginia's health care, education, and public safety budgets would hurt his chances at reelection, McDonnell appeared confident that he had made the right choices. "

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/02/virginia-gov-its-time-for-the-house-gop-to-lead-on-entitlement-reform.php?ref=fpi

The questioner doesn't seem to know that Virginia governors are term limited to one term.

The best person to make the case for Republicans on entitlement reform is NJ Governor Chris Christie. His speech to AEI today is worth watching.

http://www.aei.org/event/100369


Posted by: jnc4p | February 16, 2011 9:47 PM | Report abuse

"Not a single executive who ran the companies . . . has ever been convicted."

It could always be because prosecutors couldn't prove crimes were committed, or maybe they weren't crimes. Seriously, that passage is so recklessly hyperbolic it does nothing but make RS a laughingstock. Probably borderline libelous (or maybe not even borderline).

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 16, 2011 9:52 PM | Report abuse

qb

Did you bother to read the entire piece or just the quote I dropped in? There's plenty of corroboration but nobody seems to care. Whatever. My houses are paid off, I took my money out of the market, we have a business to run for a couple more years and then the rest of yous are on your own. No reason for me to keep beatin' a dead horse.

Posted by: lmsinca | February 16, 2011 9:59 PM | Report abuse

lms,

"I'm thinking about retiring from politics and just enjoy the rest of my time on earth..."

Nah.

Keep your politics local, serve those nearest you. Enjoy your family and your lovely region. Let all your good work of the past energize your future. No regrets. Hope & pray.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BteIwbKU_iQ

Posted by: tao9 | February 16, 2011 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Maybe this will inspire you qb

""Episodes like this help explain why so many Wall Street executives felt emboldened to push the regulatory envelope during the mid-2000s. Over and over, even the most obvious cases of fraud and insider dealing got gummed up in the works, and high-ranking executives were almost never prosecuted for their crimes. In 2003, Freddie Mac coughed up $125 million after it was caught misreporting its earnings by $5 billion; nobody went to jail. In 2006, Fannie Mae was fined $400 million, but executives who had overseen phony accounting techniques to jack up their bonuses faced no criminal charges. That same year, AIG paid $1.6 billion after it was caught in a major accounting scandal that would indirectly lead to its collapse two years later, but no executives at the insurance giant were prosecuted.""

Peace out

Posted by: lmsinca | February 16, 2011 10:04 PM | Report abuse

"Ims,, We're not all suckers. Republicans voters are sure. We do feel sorry for Republican voters. Still some people have the way this all works figured out, work it and still want to change it. I don't think it makes sense have to eat twigs and grass just to say you want people who work for a living to get paid. And I hate public employee unions. Work is good."

Pardon my question, but since TARP was authorized and implemented, do any of these institutions really believe that there will no longer be bailouts and/or legal consequences for their actions?

Does anybody think Barry's FINREG law, along with the tough talk, is enough to prevent this from happening again? Isn't the clock just ticking, with all the cash floating around courtesy of the Fed's QEII, for the same thing to happen again?

Nope, no suckers on the left either.

Thanks in advance for reading my comment, BTW! ;-) (I mean, should you choose to do so.)

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 16, 2011 10:04 PM | Report abuse

McWing

We're all suckers, left and right, which is why it's so damned funny you know? There's no ideology to these crooks, just money, ours.

If you though I was making an attack on the right, you read it wrong and probably didn't read the piece either.

This time really, peace out.

Posted by: lmsinca | February 16, 2011 10:08 PM | Report abuse

@shrink2 "Ims, We're not all suckers. Republicans voters are sure. We do feel sorry for Republican voters. Still some people have the way this all works figured out, work it and still want to change it. I don't think it makes sense have to eat twigs and grass just to say you want people who work for a living to get paid. And I hate public employee unions. Work is good."

I'm a big fan of Matt Taibbi, but I tend to draw a different conclusion than most progressives from his articles. To wit: a lot of the bad behavior of the various actors (usually banks or other financial institutions) is aided and abetted by the government (classic rent seeking). Solutions that involve complicated regulations tend to fail due to successful regulatory capture by the affected institutions. I haven't seen anything in recent history that indicates that the big banks will be any less successful at gaming the latest set of "reforms" than they were the last time. What I would prefer would be solutions that work with market forces, rather than against them.

Or to put it another way, my answer to the current Wall Street situation is anti-trust enforcement (ala Paul Volker's recommendations), not more consolidation and regulation by the same people who turn right back around and go to work for the banks (see Peter Orzag).

Another great Matt Taibbi article about how the EPA, some corrupt local politicians and JP Morgan/Chase managed to screw over a small town in Alabama.

Looting Main Street - March 31, 2010

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/looting-main-street-20100331

Posted by: jnc4p | February 16, 2011 10:10 PM | Report abuse

lms & qb,

There is definitely civil and criminal action as we speak. Because no one has yet gone to jail doesn't mean no one will.

BTW: Issa is after Counrtywide. And as night follows day the Cali Dem party is dredging for crap on Issa.

My personal preference would be Dodd, or Barney Frank...a man can dream.

This fellow has been WAY ahead of everybody on this. A very gloomy, but guilty pleasure of mine:

http://market-ticker.org/

Posted by: tao9 | February 16, 2011 10:10 PM | Report abuse

lms,

I read some of it. I'm sure he has some actual facts in there, but it's hard to take much of his spin seriously when flails around the tar bruch with claims like: "Most of these firms were directly involved in elaborate fraud and theft."

He rhetorically sweeps all of "Wall Street" and everything that goes on "there" into that reckless charge. Some of his examples have no criminal significance, some are simply false or at best highly dubious.

I don't have time to take seriously such "edgey" hackery.

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 16, 2011 10:10 PM | Report abuse

http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-chait/83638/paul-ryans-second-craziest-statement-the-day

Love this takedown of Paul Ryan.

Best is his critique of Obama for not adopting the Bowles-Simpson plan despite the fact that Ryan was on the freakin committee and voted NO on the plan!

Posted by: DDAWD | February 16, 2011 10:19 PM | Report abuse

"McWing

We're all suckers, left and right, which is why it's so damned funny you know? There's no ideology to these crooks, just money, ours.

If you though I was making an attack on the right, you read it wrong and probably didn't read the piece either.

This time really, peace out."

I apologize if you thought I was "attacking" you. I was pointing out that all those execs that ran Fannie and Freddie, for example, and which those huge fines were paid, were not only Democrats, but Democrats that were and are serving in the current administration. Emmanuel and Gorelick come to mind. The response I gave was directed at the naive notion that, somehow, only Republican are suckers, and not the voters of Barry, who, um, appointed those people to important positions in his cabinet.

I apologize and denounce myself. For anything I have done, am doing or will do in the future. Thank you in advance for reading my comment (should you choose to.) :-)

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 16, 2011 10:19 PM | Report abuse

An observation that is broad but grounded in experience about the kind of expose writing Taibbi does here: if you've never been on the inside of stories reported in this style by such reporters, you almost can't imagine how much untruth they can tell while seeming to report facts.

That's what I smell when I read this guy. He guy is very, very reckless with his rhetoric, inferences, connections, characterizations. I don't trust much of anything he has to say.

jnc4p makes a point I think I would agree with. Taibbi uses the intellectually lazy and sensational approach of simply asserting that whatever happened (and "whatever" is broad indeed) must have been criminal because of its consequences. Despite all the words he types, what he produces is gross oversimplification, and that's by design. It's not credible journalism.

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 16, 2011 10:21 PM | Report abuse

@quarterback1 "An observation that is broad but grounded in experience about the kind of expose writing Taibbi does here: if you've never been on the inside of stories reported in this style by such reporters, you almost can't imagine how much untruth they can tell while seeming to report facts.

That's what I smell when I read this guy. He guy is very, very reckless with his rhetoric, inferences, connections, characterizations. I don't trust much of anything he has to say.

jnc4p makes a point I think I would agree with. Taibbi uses the intellectually lazy and sensational approach of simply asserting that whatever happened (and "whatever" is broad indeed) must have been criminal because of its consequences. Despite all the words he types, what he produces is gross oversimplification, and that's by design. It's not credible journalism."

He's a classic muckraker, and to his credit doesn't pretend to be anything else. There's clearly a place for his reporting, and as he does go out and do actual interviews I find him credible.

Regarding specific allegations of criminal behavior, this is pretty clear:

"Just tell us how much. That sums up the approach that JP Morgan took a few months later, when Langford announced that his good buddy Bill Blount would henceforth be involved with every financing transaction for Jefferson County. From JP Morgan's point of view, the decision to pay off Blount was a no-brainer. But the bank had one small problem: Goldman Sachs had already crawled up Blount's trouser leg, and the broker was advising Langford to pick them as Jefferson County's investment bank.

The solution they came up with was an extraordinary one: JP Morgan cut a separate deal with Goldman, paying the bank $3 million to [Expletive Deleted] off, with Blount taking a $300,000 cut of the side deal. Suddenly Goldman was out and JP Morgan was sitting in Langford's lap. In another conversation caught on tape, LeCroy joked that the deal was his "philanthropic work," since the payoff amounted to a "charitable donation to Goldman Sachs" in return for "taking no risk."

That such a blatant violation of anti-trust laws took place and neither JP Morgan nor Goldman have been prosecuted for it is yet another mystery of the current financial crisis. "This is an open-and-shut case of anti-competitive behavior," says Taylor, the former regulator."

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/looting-main-street-20100331?page=4

Posted by: jnc4p | February 16, 2011 10:29 PM | Report abuse

""I apologize if you thought I was "attacking" you. I was pointing out that all those execs that ran Fannie and Freddie, for example, and which those huge fines were paid, were not only Democrats, but Democrats that were and are serving in the current administration.""

Jeebus McWing, let me apologize in advance for pointing out that I was not responding as if you attacked me. We used to be able to have a decent conversation on occasion where left and right merge along the line somewhere. So let me again just accept your undying apology in advance for misinterpreting my comment and then I'll apologize in advance for not reading your juvenile comments anymore. OKAY?

You guys are so tedious. No apology necessary.

Posted by: lmsinca | February 16, 2011 10:43 PM | Report abuse

jnc4p,

I didn't read that part of the article. That payoff could involve a criminal violation or violations, but I wouldn't take at face value that it's an open-and-shut antitrust violation. It's easy to say that, but not often as easy to lay out the proof of each element of the crime. It also doesn't seem to have a lot to do with the principal aspects of the financial crisis.

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 16, 2011 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Bernie (from earlier thread):

"" I'm not at all sure I could get anywhere with Scott on these issues - I think the ideology is too deeply planted.""

I agree. If you were not so thoroughly consumed by your ideological conspiracy theories, we might be able to find some basis for agreement.

Posted by: ScottC3 | February 16, 2011 10:46 PM | Report abuse

"Jeebus McWing, let me apologize in advance for pointing out that I was not responding as if you attacked me. We used to be able to have a decent conversation on occasion where left and right merge along the line somewhere. So let me again just accept your undying apology in advance for misinterpreting my comment and then I'll apologize in advance for not reading your juvenile comments anymore. OKAY?

You guys are so tedious. No apology necessary."

Thanks Ims, that's twice in one day I've giftware!;-). First shrink, then you! I dunno where you all are getting it from but keep it comin'. "Tedious." (snicker). I mean the word itself just sounds funny. ;-)

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 16, 2011 10:51 PM | Report abuse

People are pretending we need Wall Street, pretending that its ability to concentrate and change money generates wealth so we just bear the cost of losing everything. Same way with the medical industry, the larger the parasites become, the more the host thinks wow, so big. so fat, better not pull that off my body, the ugly bloody....


Posted by: shrink2 | February 16, 2011 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Oops! Giftware = guffawed. Doh! ;-)

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 16, 2011 10:58 PM | Report abuse

@shrink2 "People are pretending we need Wall Street, pretending that its ability to concentrate and change money generates wealth so we just bear the cost of losing everything. Same way with the medical industry, the larger the parasites become, the more the host thinks wow, so big. so fat, better not pull that off my body, the ugly bloody.... "

The main entity that needs Wall Street is the Federal Government, to help market and finance the debt.

Posted by: jnc4p | February 16, 2011 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Scott,

What did you think of Bernie's statement that he stands with John Rawls' theory of justice (justice as fairness)? I was a little surprised, but on second thought not so much.

It's been a long time since I actually studied Rawls (heard him speak at least once, too), I've always thought his theory is just an elaborate way of asserting that the only reason a person wouldn't endorse liberal principles and policies is enjoyment of personal privilege and position. Anyone with principles ought to try to set aside personal circumstances in evaluating what is just; it just happens to be the case that doing so does not, as Rawls in effect claimed, inevitably lead people to liberalism.

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 16, 2011 11:03 PM | Report abuse

Have you noticed? Tunisia and then Egypt, such a big deal, cable news crawl and so on...Bahrain? Libya?

...nothing...suddenly we just don't care

I wonder why?

No worries, we are drilling harder than Ron Jeremy in North Dakota. Canada sells us its oil at a discount. Corporate says freedom is ok unless contracts are at stake.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 16, 2011 11:05 PM | Report abuse

McWing, I used to think both you and skip were nice guys under all the rhetoric, your silliness and skip's anger. I've never treated either one of you with disrespect as far as I remember, but lately you're both being" tedious" (I'm so glad that amused you) and not worth the effort to read. There's no "there" there anymore, or if there is it's just buried too deep to bother digging up. Go ahead and make fun with your self-deprecating humor and then you can go to bed at night with a chuckle and be none the wiser for it, and neither will I.

Night all

Posted by: lmsinca | February 16, 2011 11:07 PM | Report abuse

"set aside personal circumstances in evaluating what is just"

personal circumstances, that is too funny, everything just happens to be the way it is

Posted by: shrink2 | February 16, 2011 11:11 PM | Report abuse

"McWing, I used to think both you and skip were nice guys under all the rhetoric, your silliness and skip's anger. I've never treated either one of you with disrespect as far as I remember, but lately you're both being" tedious" (I'm so glad that amused you) and not worth the effort to read. There's no "there" there anymore, or if there is it's just buried too deep to bother digging up. Go ahead and make fun with your self-deprecating humor and then you can go to bed at night with a chuckle and be none the wiser for it, and neither will I.

Night all"

Good night. Sleep well.:-)

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 16, 2011 11:13 PM | Report abuse

WHAT we have here is the liberals attempting to ridicule the results of the election.

The American People VOTED TO CUT THE BUDGETS DRASTICALLY.

Sorry for the liberals - all they are doing is defending their free-spending ways. That is a really stupid way to approach the situation

Posted by: 37thRisingNow | February 16, 2011 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Imsinca is going to miss the conservative version of cold fusion, rich, poor, these are personal circumstances, the Hindus they figured it out first. America needs Brahmans, except for that created equal thing...how about God's Will, created equal but then personal circumstances intervened. Born into it? Taoism, got you covered. Seems like you had bad luck? Islam knows your family was not right with the teachings of The Prophet. Everything is at is should be.

Bottom line = scoreboard = Justice

Posted by: shrink2 | February 16, 2011 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Q: Why do guys get laid?

A: McWing, I used to think both you and skip were nice guys...

Posted by: shrink2 | February 16, 2011 11:27 PM | Report abuse

shrink, I have no idea what your mockery means here. Are you saying justice is whatever personally advantages you?

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 16, 2011 11:31 PM | Report abuse

shrink, I have no idea what your mockery means here. Are you saying justice is whatever personally advantages you?

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 16, 2011 11:32 PM | Report abuse

"Q: Why do guys get laid?

A: McWing, I used to think both you and skip were nice guys..."

Heh. Who's gonna tell her that after she bailed from the thread, someone else made a new friend, or at least discovered a newfound respect, with one of us? ;-)

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 16, 2011 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Why are the liberals resisting the mandate the American People gave Congress?

Again, the liberals appear completely out-of-touch with the American People - rendering them incapable of governing.

In fact, Obama and the liberals have been OBSTRUCTING the proper operations of the Federal government for a few years now. It has gotten ridiculous.

The nation is watching.

The children are watching.

Posted by: 37thRisingNow | February 16, 2011 11:46 PM | Report abuse

"Are you saying justice is whatever personally advantages you?"

No, never, I promise. Good night fellas, I'll still think you are nice guys in the morning.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 17, 2011 12:04 AM | Report abuse

But the reason I'm point to this is to acknowledge that while Greg is a very hard-working reporter with a bunch of smarts at his disposal, he is also a very fine writer.

==

While Cillizza, a lazy reporter without a lot of smarts and a deplorable writer, is the on with celebrity billing.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 17, 2011 1:10 AM | Report abuse

I'm thinking about retiring from politics and just enjoy the rest of my time on earth, let the rest of you guys figure it out.

==

There is something to be said for serenity.

Exposure to toxic right wing personalities is corrosive, I find.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 17, 2011 1:16 AM | Report abuse

Hey Troll what is it with the teenybopper stylistics all of a sudden?

Emoticons are for kids. Quit it.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 17, 2011 1:18 AM | Report abuse

I think Chris C had a post yesterday which was basically asking why everyone was being so mean to Sarah Palin, haha.

And TMWN is just imitating the standard form of Conservative humor. Remember how big of a hit Darth Cheney was?

Oh, did I say imitating? I meant he Independently Came Up With it. I dare not accuse Conservatives of all imitating each other.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 17, 2011 1:56 AM | Report abuse

It's called "passive aggression," DDAWD.

Matters of life and death, terrible injustice, concern anxiety and despair, but "thanks for reading my post" winky winky winky

Posted by: caothien9 | February 17, 2011 2:08 AM | Report abuse

Well, he'll get some attention for a few days, but he'll still be a Conservative.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 17, 2011 2:30 AM | Report abuse

@Kevin - is it possible that your trollhunter is affecting my cursor's recent clumsiness in highlighting for the copy function?

Posted by: bernielatham | February 17, 2011 5:38 AM | Report abuse

Not to mention that the F-35 itself is hardly necessary given the main threat to the nation.

Posted by: rhallnj | February 17, 2011 6:20 AM | Report abuse

Everyone under the moon is remarking, with justification, on Boehner's "So be it" comment on job losses attending Republican budget initiatives. Obviously, the message directly contradicts the constant and ubiquitous "job-killing!" talking point stapled to his and every other Republican's forehead. And it was maladroit but Boehner isn't terribly bright nor competent at his gig.

But to be fair, these people now have to pivot from a complete freedom to lie about what's behind the curtain to the unavoidable moment of that curtain opening.

I think of the fellow's problem as something similar to that of an elderly male stripper.

Posted by: bernielatham | February 17, 2011 6:29 AM | Report abuse

I just went through the Times and the Post and saw no mention of this item carried by Britain's The Guardian paper...

"Colin Powell, the US secretary of state at the time of the Iraq invasion, has called on the CIA and Pentagon to explain why they failed to alert him to the unreliability of a key source behind claims of Saddam Hussein's bio-weapons capability.

Responding to the Guardian's revelation that the source, Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi or "Curveball" as his US and German handlers called him, admitted fabricating evidence of Iraq's secret biological weapons programme, Powell said that questions should be put to the US agencies involved in compiling the case for war.

In particular he singled out the CIA and the Defence Intelligence Agency – the Pentagon's military intelligence arm. Janabi, an Iraqi defector, was used as the primary source by the Bush administration to justify invading Iraq in March 2003. Doubts about his credibility circulated before the war and have been confirmed by his admission this week that he lied.

Powell said that the CIA and DIA should face questions about why they failed to sound the alarm about Janabi. He demanded to know why it had not been made clear to him that Curveball was totally unreliable before false information was put into the key intelligence assessment, or NIE, put before Congress, into the president's state of the union address two months before the war and into his own speech to the UN..."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/16/colin-powell-cia-curveball

Posted by: bernielatham | February 17, 2011 6:39 AM | Report abuse

More on the WI story, protests:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71gsnLfsbbM&feature=player_embedded

Posted by: tao9 | February 17, 2011 6:40 AM | Report abuse

I guess I should give them an hour or two. I'm an impatient man.

Posted by: bernielatham | February 17, 2011 6:41 AM | Report abuse

The Colin Powell/Curveball story is clearly misleading, because we know that "Bush lied us into war."

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 17, 2011 6:45 AM | Report abuse

On Israel, Dershowitz is a jerk. On Assange, he isn't...

http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/alan-dershowitz-to-join-wikileaks-founder-assange-s-legal-team-1.343793

Posted by: bernielatham | February 17, 2011 7:00 AM | Report abuse

I expect everyone here will want to read the piece in Commentary titled "How to Understand Rush Limbaugh". Easy to find so I won't bother linking it. I'm sure it's brilliant and jam-packed with insight.

Posted by: bernielatham | February 17, 2011 7:06 AM | Report abuse

qb:

""What did you think of Bernie's statement that he stands with John Rawls' theory of justice (justice as fairness)?""

I haven't really studied Rawls and have only a passing familiarity with him so can't really say. But It seems he is a favorite of a lot of liberals.

Posted by: ScottC3 | February 17, 2011 7:10 AM | Report abuse

"Everyone under the moon is remarking, with justification, on Boehner's "So be it" comment on job losses attending Republican budget initiatives. Obviously, the message directly contradicts the constant and ubiquitous "job-killing!" talking point stapled to his and every other Republican's forehead."

It contradicts only if, as with Reps. Moran and Pelosi, you believe that "creating jobs" is solely done by having the federal government put more people on its payroll, say, digging and filling holes, or moving paper from one stack to the next.

For the millionth time, "what is not seen" is the jobs actually killed by bloated government taxing and spending. Democrats as always remain determinedly illiterate and demogogic re economics.

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 17, 2011 7:11 AM | Report abuse

qb:

BTW, isn't "justice as fairness" a tautology?

Posted by: ScottC3 | February 17, 2011 7:12 AM | Report abuse

If I might make a meta-comment to Greg and everyone in our little community here... it seems to me that Plumland could function at a much higher level of honor and truthfulness if we aligned our operations and rules here with Sharia Law.

Posted by: bernielatham | February 17, 2011 7:13 AM | Report abuse

qb:

""It contradicts only if, as with Reps. Moran and Pelosi, you believe that "creating jobs" is solely done by having the federal government put more people on its payroll, say, digging and filling holes, or moving paper from one stack to the next."

You beat me to it. Bernie has, in the past, confessed his own relative ignorance on the subject of economics, so one would think he would avoid pontificating on the economic competence of others. But, i guess, one would be wrong.

Posted by: ScottC3 | February 17, 2011 7:18 AM | Report abuse

On the National Academy panel's findings re the FBI case against Ivins, Greenwald writes (last two graphs here)...

"It is hard to overstate the political significance of the anthrax attacks. For reasons I've described at length, that event played at least as much of a role as the 9/11 attacks in elevating the Terrorism fear levels which, through today, sustain endless wars, massive defense and homeland security budgets, and relentless civil liberties erosions. The pithy version of the vital role played by anthrax was supplied by Atrios here and here; in essence, it was anthrax that convinced large numbers of Americans that Terrorism was something that could show up without warning at their doorstep -- though something as innocuous as their mailbox -- in the form of James-Bond-like attacks featuring invisible, lethal powder. Moreover, anthrax was exploited in the aftermath of 9/11 to ratchet up the fear levels toward Saddam Hussein, as ABC News' Brian Ross spent a full week screeching to the country -- falsely -- that bentonite had been found in the anthrax and that this agent was the telltale sign of Iraq's chemical weapons program, while George Bush throughout 2002 routinely featured "anthrax" as one of Saddam's scary weapons.

That there's so much lingering doubt about who was responsible for this indescribably consequential attack is astonishing, and it ought to be unacceptable. Other than a desire to avoid finding out who the culprit was (and/or to avoid having the FBI's case against Ivins subjected to scrutiny), there's no rational reason to oppose an independent, comprehensive investigation into this matter."

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/02/16/ivans/index.html

Posted by: bernielatham | February 17, 2011 7:22 AM | Report abuse

@Scott - the point was Boehner's lack of political competency. As regards economics and job-creation, as conservative administrations have failed so miserably over the last two decades to grow jobs, you'll have to pardon me if I don't presume they either know how it might be done or whether they care much at all if it gets done.

On another sonnetorial matter, how do I detest thee? Let me count the ways...

"A House Republican on the Financial Services committee has introduced legislation that would make it easier for Congress to hamstring, or defund, the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau."

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/02/republicans-gear-up-for-fight-over-consumer-financial-protection-bureau.php?ref=fpblg

Posted by: bernielatham | February 17, 2011 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Josh, as well as being a very bright boy who has created one of the most significant online news and commentary operations with his own bare hands, is a very funny fellow...

"EVERYONE AGREES!
Va Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) says that House Republicans need to take the lead on cutting entitlements and bringing the "tough message to the American people."

The funny thing is that I think President Obama, everyone in the White House and all the Democrats on Capitol Hill are agreeing that House Republicans really should be taking the lead in bringing this message to the American people. And probably alone. If the going gets rough, so be it."

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/

Posted by: bernielatham | February 17, 2011 7:32 AM | Report abuse

It contradicts only if, as with Reps. Moran and Pelosi, you believe that "creating jobs" is solely done by having the federal government put more people on its payroll, say, digging and filling holes, or moving paper from one stack to the next.

==

Or building highways, or implementing huge projects that spin off viable and productive new technologies.

Don't you ever get tired of this Mickey Mouse junk?

==

"For the millionth time, "what is not seen" is the jobs actually killed by bloated government taxing and spending. Democrats as always remain determinedly illiterate and demogogic re economics."

==

And for the millionth time, what does conservative ecoomics have to show for all its certainties? Name one prediction that's come to pass.

"Economics" is a stillborn fad. It's centuries away from being a sceince and if we continue to live by it there won't *be* any huanity centuries away.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 17, 2011 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Bernie:

""the point was Boehner's lack of political competency.""

Yes, as demonstrated via his "contradiction" on jobs, a contradiction that does not exist. And to the extent that you think his "maladroitness" (read: honesty) is a demonstration of his incompetency, I suppose that explains why you see Obama as so competent: he deceives convincingly and with ease.

Posted by: ScottC3 | February 17, 2011 7:46 AM | Report abuse

I know we don't all see the same ads on here but am I the only one seeing the homely woman caressing an Erlenmeyer flask? And do others usually see the Indian kids with hare lips?

Yeah, the oil industry. Happy-happy people. With jobs an' colleagues an' stuff.

Everyone smile. And pass the Pennzoil.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 17, 2011 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Scott,

I always thought "justice as fairness" was somewhat odd, too, if not tautological then at least not a very useful coinage. In fairness (see what I did there), I suppose it requires reading how Rawls filled in that concept to give it meaning.

I'm no great expert on Rawls, but as I thought about it Bernie's affinity for him made some sense to me. Hopefully, I won't butcher this too badly, but at bottom Rawls was both a rationalist and a subjectivist who sought to define justice according to how a hypothetical person would define it if deprived of any knowledge of what his life circumstances would be. Thus, Scott C would not know that he would be a filthy rich and privileged bankster/plutocrat in life and so would, on the fear that he would enter life disadvantaged, agree with rules of "justice" that would benefit the disadvantaged. What would Scott C think was "social justice" then?

All that is rather vague, of course, but in the end Rawls essentially assumed that the rational person in the "original position" would inevitably come to favor principles of liberalism like (to put a fine point on it) progressive taxation and other rules of "distributive justice" that tend to take away the (putatively random and undeserved) advantages of the advantaged.

It's a theory that makes "justice" the subjective product of a hypothetical "rational" person who is thinking/acting out of self-interest and in particular out of fear or apprehension of not "winning life's lottery," as Al Gore or some Democratic candidate put it. How would I want society to work if I were born poor and less able.

One place it falls down is at the simple empirical level. I've been poor and powerless, etc., but I didn't have views about "distributive justice" any different than I do now, when I a filthy rich according to the Democrats. When I thought I would never escape the cycle of alternating unemployment and low-paying employment, I still thought liberalism appalling (and I was quite well acquinted with it).

Rawls' theory of justice has no way to explain such deviation from his assumptions except, I suppose, that I'm just not rational. Crude but consistent with the judgments we see passed on this blog about ourselves on a daily basis. And it does fit Bernie's thought patterns in some important ways. It just doesn't seem as radical and "out there" as would be befitting.

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 17, 2011 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Let me revisit once more my point from last night. While we're all arguing left/right ideology the MOTU's are still running off with the safe. Unless you're actually a big wig at one of the banks, married to one, the child of one, or a large shareholder of one, we should all care IMO about what is happening and has happened to our money. Call me crazy but I frankly don't care if you have a D or an R after your name if you've been complicit in the heist. Whether it's hyperbolic sensationalism or not, someone, or several someones, should be prosecuted. It may be the only way to change their behavior. Here's another angle completely separate from the point Taibbi was making.

""But the OCC, known for its light-touch approach, is trying to come to a quick settlement with the banks it supervises, according to officials from multiple agencies involved in the investigations. The agency is negotiating an agreement that would cost the industry less than $5 billion in fines and mortgage modifications for troubled homeowners, including principal reductions, the officials said. Other agencies are pushing for something bigger.

On Wednesday, Rep. Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican, said during a House hearing on housing issues that he had heard the potential settlement would be in the "tens of billions range." In 2008, state attorneys general reached an $8.4 billion agreement with just one company -- Countrywide Financial -- to settle predatory lending accusations. The money was used to aid distressed homeowners.

The OCC is said to be rushing to settle in hopes of forcing the hand of other regulators on the federal and state level, weakening their efforts to extract a more meaningful resolution. The probes have cast a pall over the industry as bank executives have been forced to answer questions about the investigations posed by investors and analysts. The industry wants to put the whole matter behind it and move on.""

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/16/occ-settlement-foreclosure-investigation_n_824357.html

Have a great day all.

Posted by: lmsinca | February 17, 2011 7:57 AM | Report abuse

I always thought that if I had coffee with Rawls the question I'd want to ask would have been: what if you are wrong about human nature, the rational person in the original position is gambler by disposition?

Perhaps if I'd spent more time reading critiques and responses, I'd have seen this addressed, but I found the stuff rather tedious.

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 17, 2011 8:00 AM | Report abuse

qb:

"" the rational person in the original position is gambler by disposition?""

Did the hypothetical person not only lack knowledge about his future, but also assume he had no capacity to shape his own future? That is, that whether one was to be "advantaged" or "disadvantaged" was completely a matter of chance? If so, that would seem to be a rather glaring problem.

Posted by: ScottC3 | February 17, 2011 8:15 AM | Report abuse

@Ims - My sympathies. Again, as Dewey observed, "Politics is the shadow cast by business". But even where we acknowledge that power and wealth accrete in isolated parts of the community (and that the accompanying privileges are then fiercely defended by the few who have managed to grasp them) there remains a lot of potential sway and variance to the system. It is, though terribly trite, a constant battle.

One of the reasons I consider Assange and his operation a very hopeful happenstance is that he very astutely perceives this accretion phenomenon (whether in corporate or in governance or in any other such context).

Posted by: bernielatham | February 17, 2011 8:23 AM | Report abuse

""@Ims - My sympathies.""

It's nothing Bernie, truly. Just my own frustration at the lack of awareness in why this is so important. Agree re Assange. There are other glimmers out there, so we'll see.

Talk at ya later.

Posted by: lmsinca | February 17, 2011 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Bernie, I never read Rawls. I did look at the Wiki article you cited, but I cannot grasp what is logical, consistent, or attractive from the mere redefinition of terms.

Imagining the "reasonable person" as unaffected by position and social context or equating justice and fairness seem less than useful for anything but limited thought experiments, so I am sure I know less than I need to in order to engage.

For example of the difficulty I face: to me, fairness is a narrower concept than justice, and only one component of it. Fairness is an economic concept - "honest measures", "honest day's work for an honest day's pay", no discrimination among markets, full disclosure between buyer and seller. These are critical to commercial law.

Justice also requires uniform application, but with a structure for deviation to accommodate special circumstances. In crim law, this should mean that a range of sentences are available to take into account "first offenders", state of mind, likelihood of repeat offending, and more. These are not concepts of fairness. In marital law, the status of the children becomes paramount. Society does not want to take over the care of the children, so the entire family law is devoted to making the parents continue that function after the dissolution of the marriage. This has nothing to do with fairness, but rather with a separate concept developed over time called "best interests of the child". How the parents got to where they are is of less interest to the justice system than how the children are to be cared for.

"Equity" is the area of the anglo justice system that most approximates "fairness".

Equality before the law is not always a fairness related doctrine. But if it is, it conflicts with the notion of redistribution of resources, does it not?

And is a meritocracy inherently fair or unfair? To me it is fair. It seems as if it would not be to Rawls, because the fruits of merit would have to be redistributed away from the creator of them. How do patents, copyrights, and trademarks work for Rawls?

Obviously, wili raised more questions for me than answers.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 17, 2011 8:33 AM | Report abuse

We've seen, for decades now, what fun it must be for our bodies to be floating about in zero gravity. Glenn Beck gives us a new perspective, which seems rather less fun, of what it's like for a mind to be in zero gravity...

"Who are they? Are they right? Are they left? Are they clean? Are they dirty? Are they front groups? I don't know. May I recommend if you're doing your own homework, don't do a Google search. It seems to me that Google is pretty deeply in bed with the government. Remember, maybe this is explaining why Google is being kicked out of all the other countries. Are they just a shill now for the United States government? Who is Jared Cohen? Is he a private citizen or government operative? And isn't this the second Google guy we've found? This is the second Google executive now being exposed as an instigator of a revolution."

Ailes and Murdoch seem attuned to the notion of "creative destruction". I don't think it is a scientifically-minded curiosity (What will happen if we give a platform to a really insane demagogue every day on the television?). It's really rather more targeted than that - targeted away from self, of course. It isn't even a notion that change might well produce some new circumstance that facilitates improvement. Again, because they don't wish their own circumstance to be significantly affected.

Their notion of "creative destruction" is more closely approximated in an al qaeda lieutenant who sends some young girl out with explosives tied to her breast.

Posted by: bernielatham | February 17, 2011 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Scott, I tuning in fairness to Rawls the answer would be mostly a no, but it is also sticky because the distribution of talents, abilities etc.is treated like unmerited distribution of wealth, so restraints must be placed on their products to maintain fairness.also, where do attributes like diligence ans laziness fall? So he would say "no," I think, but you've spotted a problem area. Perhaps Bernie will deign to straighten me out if I'm mistreating the man.

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 17, 2011 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Hi mark...thanks, thoughtful post. I'm away here for a bit but will get back later on. My response will be here on this thread.

Posted by: bernielatham | February 17, 2011 8:43 AM | Report abuse

All, Morning Roundup posted:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2011/02/the_morning_plum_189.html

Posted by: sargegreg | February 17, 2011 8:45 AM | Report abuse

lms,

I just don't think that unfocused and indiscriminate anger and prosecutorial vengeance is helpful. That seems to me what you are ultimately promoting.

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 17, 2011 9:06 AM | Report abuse

qb

No, I'm saying they should be subject to the rule of law just like the rest of us. These bogus settlements are virtually meaningless in the grand scheme of things. Just my opinion but nothing is going to change otherwise and we're all still at financial risk.

Posted by: lmsinca | February 17, 2011 9:27 AM | Report abuse

@mark, re Rawls

First, the caveats. As you will have seen from the "Criticism" section in the wikipedia there are substantive critical addresses to T of J. Second, it's been a couple of decades since I've done careful readings of Rawls or Nozick (critic). So I'll try to take up some of your questions stressing what I think important to Rawls' scheme.

Re limited usefulness of a thought experiment. Yes. No one is likely to agree to beginning tomorrow from the veil of ignorance position. But the usefulness of the thought experiment is to try and answer some central moral questions about fairness and thus how the social contract ought to be understood and organized. You're born with a high IQ or into a good family with high level social connections and I'm born with a paltry endowment into a family of illiterate drunks in a trailer park. Neither of us "merits" our birth situation nor the differing access to the goods of society that will inevitably follow. What, morally, ought we as a community to do about this? Rawl's prescription is a rather more disciplined version of the intution we have when we utilize a phrase like "There but for the grace of God go I".

And he reasons that if we imagine fairness in this manner we will, not knowing what our destiny might be, ensure that those at the very bottom (which could include us) are protected from the worst depredations of life. We would, Rawls reasons, maximize the prospects of the least well off yet allow for differences in distribution of goods should our situation be other than finding ourselves among the least well off. So, to answer one of your questions, Rawls would have no problem with meritocratic differences, would expect them, and find them fair given only the prior caveat in the prior sentence.

It seems to me that your definitions for "fairness" and "justice" arise out of your legal studies. Can you accept the usage of fairness as a moral concept in the manner I think you are using justice?

Hope this is a coherent address to your post. I'm at work and therefore any/all shortcomings in what I've written can be attributed to this circumstance rather than some other factor, like being raised in a trailer park.

Posted by: bernielatham | February 17, 2011 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Bernie, that is helpful to an understanding.

There is a Judeo-Christian concept of a just society being measured by how it treats the lame, the halt, the widow and the orphan.

I concede that I do not understand the word "fairness" in a context other than "fair dealings". Marriage, as Eric Fromm suggested, is not "fair", nor is friendship. We do not look to give in order to receive an equal "get" in return. Love, in the western religious context, is not about fairness, but about wanting and helping the other to be the best s/he can be in her/his own estimation, not in the estimation of the audience or the loving friend. I would have to read Rawls to understand what he means by "fairness".

I do see fairness as an ethical concept, a codified set of behaviors, but whatever the morality that justifies it, I would not that call morality "fairness".

One unrelated quibble - if instead of positing a thought experiment of placing one's self outside of social position one admits that to be an impossibility, the concept of a jury of peers becomes more comprehensible. Pick 12 who are the least unlike the two parties by having the two parties each strike 12 of 36 after questioning them, and the peer jury as a group, sworn to do the best they can to take the evidence only from the witnesses and set aside prejudgment, will become a group that will correctly decide 4+ out of 5 times. Given human error, that is about as good as it gets. The thought experiment of positioning oneself aside from society would not lead us to conclude the real world necessity of balancing a jury, I think.

I would like you to address what he means by "fairness".


Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 17, 2011 9:08 PM | Report abuse

hi mark
re "fairness"... imagine two identical twins separated at birth and placed in quite different homes, one nurturing and socially advantaged and the other punitive and disadvantaged. Later in life, the two meet and reflect on their relative fortunes after separation. If they were to conclude that "life is not fair", that would be a proper application of the term in one sense of it in common usage.

Fromm seems to be saying that human personal relationships aren't best understood as a being like a business contract where goods or responsibilities etc are divided up on an even mathematical formula (or perhaps, that they won't be terribly fulfilling if approached in that way). A good friend doesn't insist that you now support him in an exact reciprocity of what he did for you earlier. Such relationships aren't about "fairness" in that sense of the term. And I'm sure that's so although my wife owes me 27 foot rubs.

Which pretty quickly points to the problems with pure altruism. It can't be merely uni-directional or some party is going to get or feel walked on, humans being humans. There has to be a reciprocity, at least rough or approximate perhaps evident in intent if not result, or things come apart. So their seems to be a "fairness" issue there (fairness as you use the term).

I'm having trouble getting my noggin around your third last graph. If what I've written above doesn't resolve it, let me know.

As to the jury scheme, yes, I think it's a fine means we have developed to resolve disagreements in "fairness" as you're using the term.

But suppose we imagine two slave owners in a legal contest over who is the proper owner of slave A. We place them in front of a jury of their peers and stipulate that they are as objective as possible. How does the "fairness" equation here function in respect to slave A.

Posted by: bernielatham | February 18, 2011 8:00 AM | Report abuse

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